Tyres lit by protesters burn near the military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan. Picture: AP Photo

Johannesburg – The Sudanese government was on the verge of carrying out a major crackdown on the ongoing protests, according to the opposition Sudanese Professional Association (SPA).

Senior government officials were planning to use extreme violence against protesters outside the army headquarters over the weekend in the biggest protest since anti-government demonstrations erupted last December, the Sudan Tribune reported the SPA stating.

The warning of an impending bloody crackdown followed thousands of protesters on Sunday continuing their sit-in outside the headquarters of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) for the second day. Protesters were demanding the resignation of  President Omar Al-Bashir, and that the military stop supporting the government and instead take their side.

Reports coming out of the capital Khartoum say First Vice-President Awad Ibn Ouf, who is also defence mnister, sent orders to break up the sit-ins after a meeting held with President Omar Al Bashir and his former First Vice President Ali Osman Taha.

However, several army generals feared a significant death toll. These fears circumvented a weekend crackdown with many protesters refusing to budge.

The SPA pointed out that the initial decision by the defence minister to end protests outside the army headquarters at any cost indicated the strong possibility of a massacre being planned against peaceful citizens.

Dozens of protesters have already been killed in clashes with security forces since the protests began. The official figure is in dispute with Khartoum stating 31 deaths while international organisations including Amnesty International putting the figure at more than 50.

Thousands more protesters have been arrested and jailed. Protesters accuse authorities of deliberately denying those injured proper medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s information minister, who is also the government spokesperson, Hassan Ismail, has warned against an impending civil war due to the state of polarisation and accused SPA of receiving foreign money that is driving the current protests.

He has further accused the SPA of rejecting dialogue.

 African News Agency (ANA)